“Officer,” Oliver said as he looked at the nameplate on the cluttered desk, “Jay Ford, I am a very busy guy. I don’t have time to go to the other side of town because of a dog and I can’t take care of it.”
Jay groaned tiredly. “You can’t leave a dog here,” he remarked for the third time since becoming the unlucky officer who had to attend to Oliver five minutes earlier.
“Then what do you want me to do?” he grumbled as he jerked his feet beneath the desk. “Should I leave her on the street?” he said, pointing back to the exit. “Why is my day so twisted because of a puppy?” he said, running his hand through his short hair.
He couldn’t figure out what to do next and the murmurs from the crowded complaint room weren’t doing him any good. Neither the smell of coffee nor the stuffy air helped him too. Body odour from folks who hadn’t washed due to shifts—including the one across the table—didn’t help his thoughts either. As those with complaints sat in front of officers, their tired fingers clanked on keyboards, documenting their reports. The frosty glass door at the station’s entry slid open, and two cops led a large guy in a cuff inside.
“Look, Officer Ford, I am allergic to dogs,” he tried again. “It’s because you don’t know who I am, but I can’t be sick,” he said, putting his palm to his chest.
“I recognise you,” he said, his brow furrowed. “Is there anyone in Red Hill who hasn’t heard of Oliver Hastings? SH Group is a leading corporation on this continent–“
“Then why are you so rigid?”
“I wish I could assist,” Jay stated as he cleared three empty paper cups from his table. “We have other matters to deal with, ones involving humans.”
“Yes, I can see that.” Oliver eyed the two stacks of files on each side of the square desk. It was the most disorganised desk he’d ever seen. “Do you actually get to solve any of the cases?” His deliberate attempt to annoy the officer for not assisting him.
The severe voice drew everyone’s attention.
Approaching Officer Jay Ford’s table was a five-foot-four-inch lady with a flawless chestnut-brown complexion and short raven hair as if she was about to throw acid on him. To everyone’s amazement, she simply drew a chair and sat on it.
“Eden?” Jay was taken aback by his girlfriend’s unexpected presence.
“Hi!” Oliver smiled, pointing a finger at Eden’s face. She gave him the shortest stoic look in history and turned to face Jay again. “I nearly didn’t recognize you without your overalls,” he said as he waved at her like a schoolgirl.
“What are you doing here?” Jay asked with a puny smile.
“I need to be certain before I go with why I came here,” she replied, seeking a reason not to pull out the tongue of the lying cheating son of a —
Jay moved his weight in his seat. “What do you need to be certain of?”
His ears twitched and his throat suddenly felt dry. “Huh?” was all that could come out of his throat. He sucked his lips and fidgeted behind the desk. Primmadonna43 was the username of Holly, his second girlfriend. “Wha- what? What is that?”
Eden clenched her teeth and leaned closer to his desk. “Lying is only going to make it worse for you. Who is she? Answer me, please.”
Jay glanced at Oliver who had the expectant eyes of a person about to watch a movie in a cinema. “Can we take this outside?” Jay said to Eden and stood up.
“Sit down,” she said curtly
“Okay,” he sank back in his chair.
“When did Texas turn into the Bahamas? I wasn’t aware of the name change,” she said with a sinister crackling.
Jay licked his wide lips again, looking around for help. Except for Oliver, no one else was paying attention to them, and he was having a good time.
“Can you excuse us, please?” He said to Oliver, stalling whatever Eden had planned for him.
“What? That is not fair,” Oliver grumbled. “I was here first. Why do I get to go for her?”
Two ladies burst through the centre entrance, their gazes sweeping the station. One of them was Lessie, and Oliver recognized her. The second lady resembled Eden around the eyes and nose. Her brown hair was significantly longer than Eden’s and she was slightly darker.
“Makayla,” Lessie said, tapping the lady beside her and supporting her lower back with her other hand, “there she is.” She jutted her chin at Eden. They scurried over, weaving through station desks.
“Eden, let’s go,” Makayla said, grabbing her arm.
Eden wasn’t in love with Jay. She dated him out of boredom and stayed with him out of loyalty, the same loyalty she expected. She was never unfaithful to him. This was good though; it was her escape route. Her relationship with him was exclusive, which was the only reason she was a little hurt, but that was it. Though technically, Jay bolted first, it was her chance to bolt. “It is perfect that things turned out this way. I was tired anyway.” She inched forward again. “If you ever call me or I see you around me again, I am going to bury you alive,” Eden threatened with an assuring and menacing look that would make everyone listening believe her.
Jay bit his lower lips and fiddled with his thumbs.
Oliver grinned and thought to himself, “Sexy.”
Eden was about to leave with Makayla and Lessie when Jay sprung to his feet with a burst of confidence. “This was one of the reasons I did it,” he snarled.
Eden swung around to face him. Her hands on her hip, she demanded, “What?”
“You’re not feminine,” Jay said. “You’re not in touch, too abrasive. Any romantic gesture irks you.”
“No, your romantic gesture irks me,” Eden retorted.
“Who hates roses?” His voice became high-pitched.
“I do!” She balled her fist on her side.
Jay clicked his teeth. “See? see? That’s another thing. That temper. No man can handle that temper.”
Eden released another one of her humourless chuckles and ended it with a groan as she swept her hair back. “Should I just kill him right now and go to prison?” she wondered aloud as she thrust her face at Jay and took a step toward him.
“Eden! He’s not worth it,” Lessie said, stopping her from taking another step.
A severely tattooed man in handcuffs was brought past them by an officer. The tattooed guy shoved the officer against Eden and rushed towards the door. Eden fell backwards, expecting to fall to the ground, but she was met by muscular hands propping her up by her shoulders. A ruckus broke out at the station as other officers tackled the man and hauled him back inside.
“Sorry, ma’am,” the officer that tripped Eden apologised. “Are you alright?”
She nodded in response and the officer joined his colleagues.
Eden looked up from the hands supporting her shoulders and saw Oliver smiling down at her. She furrowed her brows at him, weirdo.
She had pulled away before realisation plunged into Oliver. He acted on reflex when he prevented Eden’s fall. His eyes widened as he became aware of what just happened. He had touched her. His bare palms touched Eden’s bare shoulders and he didn’t see anything. No images, no flashes, no vision! How was that possible? Maybe he was mistaken. He approached Eden again and poked her arm.
“Hey,” she said, stepping back. “Personal space.”
Oliver’s jaw dropped and his eyes fell on his hands as if they were dipped in pure gold.
“Let’s go,” Lessie urged Eden and Makayla.
Makayla came to a standstill a few steps from the door and sighed. Then she turned around and rushed back inside.
“Makayla!” Lessie yelled at her.
With no response, Makayla charged at Jay. Jay noticed her and his attempt to flee caused him to trip over a garbage can behind his foot. He sat down on the hard floor, the contents of the garbage can scattering around him.
Makayla swooped down on him and pinned him to the ground. “You broke my sister’s heart!” Her fist landed on Jay’s cheek. “You son of a bitch!” She delivered another punch and added two more before officers were able to get her away from him. It took three officers to restrain her as she kept struggling to get her hands on Jay. “If I see you anywhere near her again,” she snapped, “I am going to rip out your tongue and make you swallow it! You hear me?”
“Makayla! Makayla! Calm down! ” Lessie pleaded behind her, her voice scarcely audible over the commotion.
Oliver twisted his body to avoid brushing it with the crowd Makayla had pulled.
Jay was helped to his feet by his colleagues while he rubbed his burning face and throbbing cheeks. His lips and inner cheeks were bruised and Eden was content to watch him bleed.
“Lock her up!” an officer with a thick moustache ordered one of the officers holding Makayla.
“No, no,” Jay said. “Let her go. Let them go.”
“Are you sure?” the officer asked.
The Officers freed Makayla’s arms. “Don’t think you just did me a favour,” she flashed her finger at Jay. Jay and the other officers took a step back from her. “Your station is five blocks away. If you cross my radar again, you are dead! ”
“Ma’am please refrain from making death threats in a police station,” an officer said to her.
“Oh! Shut up, lanky!” she yelled, brushing the officer’s shoulder as the others parted to let her through.
“Damn, we came here to stop Eden from doing what you just did,” Lessie stated as they approached the exit. “I’m not sure who has the worst temper, you or her? I’ll tell you what though, you both are definitely sisters.”
“I was afraid I’d get constipated if I didn’t kick his Caucasian ass,” Makayla said. “Can you believe him?” she blew a strand of hair from her cheek. “You are not feminine,” she said, mimicking Jay, and turned her gaze back to him. “Feminise this, asshole.” Before Lessie dragged her out with Eden, she gave Jay the middle finger.
“You bit off more than you can chew, Ford,” an officer tapped Jay and left as the crowd dispersed.
“Yeah, you did,” a female officer said, giving him a sour look.
Oliver came out of the station just as night descended on the city. He headed to the parking lot after retrieving the dog from the front desk where he had left her. He placed her in the front passenger seat, thinking about how useless the cops in town were for not taking the dog off his hands. What a waste of time! He paused before closing the door. But, was it? He gawked at his hands once again, recalling what had transpired at the station. He let out a chuckle, beyond astonished as to why he didn’t see Eden’s death vision.
He saw a middle-aged man strolling by. Perfect! He rushed to him and grabbed his hand. He saw the man’s death vision instantly; he would die of a heart attack.
“Hey, what are you doing?” The man tugged his hand out of Oliver’s grip.
He feigned a grin. “Sorry,” he fluttered his fingers, “I lacked affection as a child, so I seek physical touch wherever I can get it.”
Before walking away, the man looked at Oliver as if he belonged in a mental institution.
Oliver went back to his car, his shoes barely making a sound on the tarred parking lot. He took his phone from his pocket and dialled Niles, the one person he could talk about this with. Niles answered his phone on the second ring; he was never without his phone. “Niles! Pay attention to me.”
“I touched someone and didn’t see how she was going to die,” he announced excitedly.
“There’s this Doctor I saw earlier this evening.”
“You went to see a doctor?! Are you sick?” he inquired.
He was always overreacting. “No. Not a human doctor. An animal doctor…”
“Okay. For the puppy?”
“Yes, anyway… I can’t get into details of how it happened now but I touched her arms and I didn’t see the moment of her death!”
“You didn’t see it like the vision was not clear?”
“No, no. Like I couldn’t see anything at all,” he snapped his fingers. “Nada!”
“Hum?” Niles paused. “Why? Is the ability gone?”
“No, I touched someone else—
“Did you see anything?” he asked eagerly.
“Yes, I did.”
“Why didn’t you see the Doctor’s then?”
“I don’t know,” Oliver said thoughtfully. “I have to touch her again.”
“Huh, be careful. You sound like a perv.”
“I must touch her,” he affirmed to himself.
“Ollie, don’t do it. You can be arrested for harass—
Oliver hung up the phone and got into his car.
His car headlight beamed at Makayla, Eden and Lessie as they got to the clinic a few minutes later. Before turning off his car engine, he honked to get their attention and stop them from entering the clinic. He stepped out and buttoned his suit as he beelined to them.
Facing three curious eyes, Oliver realised he had no idea what to say. He couldn’t simply grab Eden’s hand as he did with the man earlier. He needed to come up with something. “I- I didn’t introduce myself the other time. My name is Oliver Hastings,” he said as he extended his hand for a handshake, hoping Eden would accept it.
Eden folded her arms and stared down at his hand. “What are you doing? Are you following me? You came to my clinic, you were at the station, now you are here.”
“Yes, Gringo, what’s your deal?” Makayla cocked her chin towards him.
A crease formed on his forehead. “Gringo?”
Lessie pinched her side and whispered to her.“’Kayla, stop with the name-calling.”
Oliver cocked his brow at Makayla. “And you are…?”
“Her sister,” she declared.
“Oh.” He faced Lessie who looked exhausted. “You too?”
“No, I’m her friend,” she said with a tiny voice.
Oliver gave a nod. Maybe a direct approach would help. “This may sound odd but may I touch you?” he asked Eden.
The three of them exchanged puzzled looks before bursting out laughing.
“Are you sure you should be standing in front of a veterinary clinic and not Bellerive?” Makayla giggled.
“I am not crazy. I just need to check something.”
“You sound crazy and I am tired,” Eden said as she moved past him.
Oliver clutched her arm desperately.
“Hey!” Eden took his hand off her arm and spun to his back, pinning his hand between his shoulder blades. She then pushed him forward and pressed him to the wall as a painful grunt escaped Oliver. “Who is this psycho? Today is not the day to mess with me,” she pulled his hand tighter.
Lessie appeared next to them. “No day is a good day to mess with you. Let him go,” she tapped Eden.
Oliver tapped the wall with his other hand, groaning painfully.
“Eden,” Lessie pleaded.
“I don’t think your dog is the only one that is malnourished.” She let go of him and walked away inside the clinic.
“She is not my dog,” Oliver responded, as he massaged his shoulder.
“Are you okay?” Lessie asked kindly.
“Lessie!” Eden called her from inside the clinic.
“Use an ice pack to relieve the discomfort.” Lessie massaged Oliver’s sore shoulder hesitantly. “Goodnight. Urgh! “I need to pee,” she hopped inside.
Though his shoulder ached, he was more interested in his hands and the fact that he did not see the vision of Eden’s death when he touched her. “This is… amazing,” he said alone in the dark. “How is this even possible?” he wondered, laughing.
Eden has suddenly become the most fascinating person in the universe to him.
Oliver stepped out of his car onto the concrete-floored garage. He was going to lock the car when a faint whimper reminded him of the puppy in his front seat. She scurried to the driver’s seat and perched her forelegs on the window, wiping her thin tongue over her nose. Oliver contemplated abandoning her in the car. Darn it! He wasn’t that heartless. Like picking up a dripping towel, he hoisted her by the ribs and went to the front door. He clutched the paper bag containing her drugs in his armpit and punched in his door passcode to unlock it.
The lights turned on as soon as the door beeped open. The Smart AC and electric fireplace are turned on as well. The house was huge and tidy, just the way he liked it. The floor was spotless, grey marble. The walls were glossy white, and the ceiling was high with two large crystal chandeliers, one in the dining area and one in the living room.
On the right side of his living room, Oliver unlocked a sliding door that led to the balcony. He set the dog down on the stone tiles. “Stay,” he ordered and shut the door, ignoring the protesting squeals that followed.
He went to his room on the second floor of his house and took a shower. He was mopping his hair in front of his bathroom mirror after the relaxing shower when his phone vibrated. Whoever the caller was, his lips broadened in a smile as he took up the phone and pressed the speaker icon.
“You told her she is not your type?!” a woman’s voice demanded. “She is a lovely young lady!” If she’s not your type, who is? A nun?”
“Hello, Mother,” Oliver smirked. “How are you doing this lovely evening?” He spread the damp towel on a towel rack and went back to his room.
“Mrs Solan blew a fuse! Why you gon’ tell her about her family’s bankruptcy too? You could’ve said nothing. You have a nasty attitude, do you know?”
“Of course, I know.” He changed out of his ash bathrobe into a loose top and trousers.
“Are you gonna keep this up?”
“Oliver Kelvin Hastings!” Mrs Hastings yelled on the phone, causing her son to crackle even more. “Ain’t you gon’ get married?”
“Someday when? You are thirty-two—
“I am still young—
Mrs Hasting faked a laugh. “Don’t kid yourself!” She ranted as Oliver returned downstairs. “A 10-year-old dog thinks he’s young, but in reality, he isn’t.” Oliver scrunched his nose at his phone, confused about his mother’s choice of reference. “Hansen, you know Hansen, right? I met his Mama at a concert. She wouldn’t stop yapping about her three grandchildren and when she did, she asked about mine. That evil woman!” she hissed. “She knows you are not married— you are not even in a relationship. Do you know some people think you are a eunuch—
“Are you sure that isn’t just you, Mother?” Oliver took a can of beer from a silver side-by-side door refrigerator.
“I’m gonna sue them for defamation,” Mrs Hastings went on. “How dare they call my son a eunuch?” She paused. “But… it ain’t true, right?”
“Mother,” he chuckled.
“Are you gay? I can try to keep an open mind as long as I still get to have my grandkids.”
Oliver plodded on the black and white, U-shaped sofa set in his living room, laughing at his mother. “For the hundredth time, I am not gay, Ma.”
“So, what’s the problem?” Mrs Hastings sounded more frustrated.
“I told you they are not my type.”
“Tell me your type, I will find her for you.”
“Hum,” he rolled his eyes, recalling that Niles said the same thing. He opened his beer and took a sip while holding the phone between his shoulder and ear.
He constantly claimed that a lady wasn’t his type since he couldn’t think of another reason. While studying in Europe, he got into two relationships. None of them exceeded a month. Recoiling and cringing at the slightest form of physical contact was enough to snuff the life out of any relationship. He guessed his type would be a lady he could touch without the vision of her death clawing at him. A conclusion that brought him back to Eden—
“Ollie?” Mrs Hastings dragged him out of his reverie.
“I’ll find her myself, Ma,” he said and drank his beer again.
Mrs Hasting paused and exhaled. “Have you eaten? You are drinking beer again, aren’t you?”
Oliver sputtered between gulps and checked the living room for hidden cameras.
“I have told you, having beers for dinner will give you two things; diabetes and a belly that makes you look like you are eight months pregnant. Mrs Brooks didn’t prepare your dinner?”
Mrs Brooks was Oliver’s housekeeper. They rarely saw each other. She resumed work at the house daily after Oliver had left for work and she was usually gone before he returned. “I told her to stop cooking dinner.”
“I always get home late. I hate eating so late.”
“I see. Apparently, you don’t have any problem with drinking what is bad for your health so late at night.” He chuckled softly at his mother’s judgemental tone. It was all from a place of love, but nobody nagged their son more than Victoria Hastings.
“Will you move back to the compound?”
“What? Mom, I run a multi-dollar company that accounts for 16% of the country’s GDP, and you want me to live with you? My mother?”
“What—” She heard a bark in the background. “Is that a dog?”
“A puppy—” He faced the balcony door. “Hey! Quiet.” The puppy replied by barking louder and clawing at the door.
“Why do you have a puppy? You have a dog allergy..”
“It is a long story— hey! Stop with the barking.”
“She is probably hungry. Have you fed her?”
Oliver turned his face to the phone. “She needs to eat?”
“Oh, good Lord!”
Oliver imagined his mother shaking her head and clicking her tongue.
“Where is she?”
“You locked a puppy outside?!”
“She used to be a stray. I am sure compared to what she’s used to, a tiled balcony is a five-star hotel.”
“I know mothers are not supposed to say this about their sons, but Oliver, you are not a good person! You live alone in a three-bedroom house.”
“So? You want me to give her a room?”
“Get her inside and feed her!” She ended the call abruptly.
“Mother, Mom? Ma?” He brought the phone to his face and bobbed his head at it. “Yeah, she is gone.” He heaved and laid his back on the sofa as he sipped his beer. His eyes fell on the white paper bag with Johnson’s Vet logo. It contained Pooch’s medications. She probably needed to eat before taking the drugs. He shifted his gaze to the balcony door, watching Pooch scratch at it relentlessly. The furry little thing was going to ruin his door.
He sipped his final swig of beer and crushed the can in his palm with a lethargic sigh. He stood from the sofa and tossed the crushed can in a garbage bin beside the granite kitchen island. He did a victory pirouette for the perfect throw, then twirled to open the balcony door.
The stray puppy dashed inside the house and scurried upstairs. “Hey stray! Where are you going?” Oliver ran after her, mumbling. “Where is she?” He ran up the stairs to the second floor. His study space was located on the right side of the stairs. The study had no door and its wall was only halfway up. It was large and had thousands of books, mostly business and financial books, arranged on the shelves. He had some files on the table begging for his attention. No way, not tonight.
He peered behind the table and looked around. No four-legged furry little thing. He turned away from the study, “Stray!” he called. Arms akimbo, he continued down the passage until he saw Stray curled up on a bed in one of his guest rooms. When she spotted him, her floppy ears perked up. She licked her nose and snuggled on the bed, curving a paw over her face.
Oliver laughed. “What are you doing here? You can’t sleep here,” he bent his body forward as he spoke to her. “This is a white monochrome bed with fibre sheets. Even Paris Hilton’s dog doesn’t sleep on that. Get up,” he gestured.
Stray cocked her head and laid it back on her front paws, perfectly happy where she was.
“You are ignoring me?” he laughed. He caught sight of a brown stain on the sheet and zoomed in. “Stray! You stained the sheet.”
She responded by barking, as though she was saying, ‘you’re meant to bathe me,’ and rolled back into bed.
Oliver folded his lips, forming excuses in his head. He didn’t want the puppy to think she won. “Mrs Brooks will have to wash this sheet tomorrow and that’s not okay,” he told the puppy. “I don’t like giving her unnecessary chores to do. She already has enough to do with cleaning the house. As you can see,” he waved around the room, “the house is quite big and she is doing a fantastic job of keeping it sanitary. I am doing this for her, not you,” he dangled his finger at Stray. Stray replied with two blinks. “Stay here.”
He went to his room to pick up his shampoo and hair products from the bathroom rack. “Hollywood dogs don’t use shampoo this expensive,” he muttered, examining the tubes of hair products. “Fine,” he said with a sigh, “it is my fault for driving at the wrong time.” He took a towel from the rack. “That stupid blind date is to blame for all this,” he mumbled as he returned to Stray.
Oliver picked her up from the bed and took her to the guest bathroom. “This is only because of Mrs Brooks,” he affirmed for the third time as he bathed the puppy. “And I despise stains…” he sneezed. “I don’t want you breeding germs,” he sneezed, “in my house,” he sneezed again, sniffing.
His nose was streaming and his eyes were the colour of cherries by the time he finished shampooing and drying the Golden Retriever. He sneezed and sniffled to the kitchen. He knew it was pointless to expect anything edible in his refrigerator, but he opened it anyway. All he had inside were drinks, mostly beers of various brands. He sucked his lips and looked at Stray. She sat on the floor, staring at him. “What will you eat?” he asked her.
Stay cocked her head and wagged her tail.
He was rarely at home, so he never bothered himself with eating at home. What will she eat? He raked his fingers through his hair. He finally got an idea. He picked up his phone to call a nearby chicken restaurant and ordered in. Problem solved.
He grabbed the TV remote and turned it on. He found a news channel and sat down to watch while he waited for Stray’s meal. Eden Johnson came to his mind again while watching TV. He lifted his hands to his face, gawping at it like one would a house made of diamonds. What made the animal doctor different? He wondered. Oliver had been able to see the future since he was twelve— not the future exactly. He could see when people would die if he so much as nudged them.
The doorbell rang, alerting him that Stray’s meal had arrived. “Eat and come for your vitamins.” He placed the bowl of chicken in front of a very anxious puppy. In minutes, she had devoured a whole chicken. There was nothing left, not even oil.
She hopped on the sofa beside Oliver with a relatively larger tummy.
Oliver sneezed. “No, no, no.” He scooped her to the other side of the sofa and returned to his seat only to find her by his side again. “Girl, space.” He bumped her away and sneezed again.
Stray barked at him.
Oliver flinched at the outburst. “What?” he queried with bugged-out eyes.
Stray whimpered and planted herself beside him.
“Fine, please yourself.” He sat back and watched TV for a while before giving her the prescribed vitamins. She chewed the pills as though they were pieces of bone. Afterwards, she ran upstairs. He followed her to the guest room where Stray was curled up on the bed. “Yeah, make yourself at home,” he said as he exited the room, clicking his tongue.
To be continued…
Hi guys! Hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of Precognition? Next week is when things start getting really interesting, so pin it on your calendar and I will see you again next Saturday. Oh, don’t forget to share just down there. Thanks!